People in power can also make sense
Obama pushes to end fossil fuel subsidies and nuclear arms
Here at Progress, we’re neither for nor against politicians, rather we’re for geonomics -- the public recovery and sharing of natural values in lieu of taxing our efforts and subsidizing special interests. But let’s give credit where credit is due. One politician took two major stances recently. We trim and blend two 2009 articles from (1) AP, Sep 23, on subsidies by Seth Borenstein (their Science Writer! not economics) and (2) AFP, Sept 24, on nuclear arms, by Jo Biddle and Gerard Aziakou.
by Seth Borenstein and by Jo Biddle & Gerard Aziakou
Obama wants worldwide end of fossil fuel subsidies
US President Barack Obama is calling on the world to end massive government subsidies that encourage the use of fossil fuels.
" I will work with my colleagues at the G-20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge," Obama said at the United Nations global warming summit.
Many countries, including the United States, provide tax breaks and direct payments to help extract and use oil, coal, natural gas, and other fuels that spew carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas. Eliminating those would provide a significant down payment toward the US goal of cutting fossil fuel emissions in half by 2050.
The costs of these subsidies are estimated in the tens of billions of dollars annually worldwide. In the US alone, the federal government gave $72 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry between 2002 and 2008, according to a study by the Environmental Law Institute.
Environmental Law Institute’s John Pendergrass said, "Some of it is going to companies making record profits."
Fossil fuel industry officials said the idea would hurt US energy security. Environmentalists cheered the idea as a constructive use of free markets.
The subsidies encourage the burning of fuel that leads to global warming and other pollution. Eliminating the subsidies would help slow global warming, reduce health problems from pollution, make the United States more energy-independent, and foster economic growth.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report last week that removing fossil fuel subsidies could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 10 percent in 2050. OECD is a Paris-based international organization with 30 democratic countries as members, including the United States and most of Europe.
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said, "the budgetary savings could be used to reduce other distorting taxes or to alleviate poverty in a more targeted and efficient way."
In 2008, countries that subsidized fossil fuels increased their consumption by one million barrels of oil, while those that didn't reduced their consumption by about 1.5 million barrels.
Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, a Washington environmental group, said there is "no greater cause of climate change than fossil fuels. There's no greater cause of that than artificial subsidies. It's a great idea to eliminate those subsidies and let the marketplace work."
Obama pushes nuclear arms-free world
World powers Thursday adopted unanimously a landmark resolution seeking to rid the planet of nuclear arms at an unprecedented Security Council summit hosted by US President Barack Obama.
"Although we averted a nuclear nightmare during the Cold War, we now face proliferation of a scope and complexity that demands new strategies and new approaches," Obama said.
"Just one nuclear weapon exploded in a city, be it New York or Moscow, Tokyo or Beijing, London or Paris, could kill hundreds of thousands of people."
The summit came as the world powers warned Iran that more sanctions could follow if Tehran refuses to comply with UN demands to rein in its nuclear ambitions.
"We must never stop until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of the earth," Obama said.
US officials have stressed the aim of the summit, which was shunned by Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, was to reinvigorate the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Chinese President Hu Jintao said countries with the largest nuclear arsenals -- the United States and Russia -- "should continue to take the lead in making drastic and substantive reductions in their nuclear weapons."
And he proposed that all nuclear-weapon states "abandon the nuclear deterrence policy based on first use of nuclear weapons and take credible steps to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons.
His Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev said one of the major security threats was the danger that nuclear components will end up "in the hands of terrorists." He called for ways to make sure that would not happen.
Medvedev added Moscow was ready to "move further" to reduce its nuclear arsenal.
The United States and Russia are seeking to agree on a successor to the landmark 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) before it expires on December 5.
The Security Council meeting comes as Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has offered talks between Iranian and US experts for the first time to allay fears about his country's nuclear program.
Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama meanwhile urged all world leaders to visit the atom-bombed Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to "absorb with their own eyes and ears the cruelty of nuclear weapons."
Mainstream media gives voice to reason
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